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There is a lot of talk about inhumane treatment of animals and how we don't kill them in the proper way. I wonder how much research is done on this subject. What is the overall least painful way for an animal to die?

I also wonder if this would be the same for a human. It is often said that its least painful to die in ones sleep and i wonder if this is true. I wonder what is the most humane way to execute a capital punishment (if that is at all possible)

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Should we be worried? – Bitwise Mar 29 '13 at 20:05
hah, yea it does sound pretty grim. I think the actual answer is not something that is easily available to most people. I just wonder how much we actually know about it because people keep screaming for more ethical treatment and i just dont know if we even know what that would be. And if seemingly more ethical treatment (like sedating animals before) are actually more ethical. Chemical ways might seem easier on the eyes but they actually better. – Xitcod13 Mar 29 '13 at 20:18
Part of the problem is: how do you know when an animal is suffering or in pain? Maybe looking into pain management research that uses animal models would be informative. – Drosophila Mar 29 '13 at 20:33

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has thought about humane methods of euthanasia quite a bit and has an extensive (102 p. PDF) set of guidelines for the euthanasia of animals. The guidelines are not the same for all animals. Some examples:

Companion animals (e.g., dogs and cats): injected barbiturates are recommended

Laboratory animals (e.g., mice and rats): injected barbiturates are acceptable as are inhaled agents (isoflurane, carbon dioxide).

As for humans, you might look into the physician assisted suicide literature. I think that these generally use a sequence of drugs. As far as natural deaths, kidney failure is supposed to not be very painful.

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Good answer but... there is a big point to be made on lab animals. Certain drugs may or may not be appropriate if the animals are to be used for experiments, as the drug may inficiate the results (e.g. I would avoid barbiturates if the animal's brain is being used for doing electrophysiology afterwards) – nico Mar 30 '13 at 7:24

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